Strange Days – Day 27

I’m going to start today with this photo out one of our spectacular sunsets, taken as I walked back from my little mommy’s house next door, a couple of days ago. That’s our little house that you can hardly see, along with so much saved junk (for those times of need, that seem to be here).  That Elm tree shades what used to be the garden and is now slated to become the play yard, and there to the right you can see the Tamarix trees that block some wind from the (cracked, empty) reservoir that I still haven’t figured out how to repurpose.

I think we’re blessed and lucky to live out here in the desert.  We have 40 acres here, with 2 houses and a number of outbuildings in various states of disrepair, that my grandparents bought in the 60’s for a song.  The house is post and pier of native stone and wood, and was built sometime in the mid to late 1800’s.  We have a root cellar that has been used as storage, but may soon be reclaiming its original intent, a defunct windmill that I’d love to repair, and a pump house that encloses the bladder tank and machinery that draws our sweet water up from deep in the earth.

There are a lot of wonderful things about living in a small town, and of course there’s also a downside, but it’s comparatively small, in my opinion.  Although I’ve never been a fan of local politics, (you’d be hard put to find a more conservative place in California), we pretty much keep to ourselves and connect with the few like minded folx out here.

We’re 7 miles from our tiny town, and our local IGA is really stepping up for us. Our little market is fairly well stocked and even now they’re trying hard to make sure we have access to what we might need.  We had some folx coming in from the larger towns around us, especially in the first days of panic hoarding, but our market made provisions for our seniors and locals right away. Our excellent pizza joint, Rock’s, is being awesome about offering take out or dine in your car and has added more delivery days and hours, which is a treat.

The school district is giving out bag lunches to everyone under 18 (enrolled or not) every day, and the teachers of my grandhumans, 5 (Kindergarten) and 9 (4th grade) are really amazing and caring people who are doing an wonderful job of helping their kids through these challenging school days with various remote venues, daily texts and videos, and hard copy work for the kids that need and/or prefer it. The kids can even upload fun, chatty and silly videos for their friends and classmates to their virtual schoolroom, which I think is just so super cool.

Cafe 247 roadside sign reading "Free toilet paper with every wipe", various junk decor against a blue sky.

Cafe 247 sign reading “Free toilet paper with every wipe”

Roadside signage (cv) and junk decor against a blue sky

Cafe 247 sign reading “Fu_k this BS Covid Virus”

Now to the downside of small town, living. I mean, maybe not all small towns, but specifically this tiny desert town full of… man, I don’t even know how to name them without sounding mean and ugly.  Suffice it to say that there are a lot of undereducated, supposedly god fearing, gun toting, right wing, conspiracy theory kinda white folx out here that just blow me away. While most of the small businesses and restaurants in town are acting right, there is one that stands out in its rebellion and it has a rather loud and vehement support base.  Cafe 247, which is a main source of overpriced burgers, burritos and shakes for the various out of town dirt bikers, 4 by-ers and other weekend desert adventurers, is not only open for business, but flaunting it and their conspiracy theory- be amerikan- no masks stance with their signage, their posts in local facebook groups and most tellingly by the number vehicles in the parking lot and of folx at their outdoor tables.

We don’t eat there anyway, after one $80 bill for burgers for 2 adults and 2 kids some years ago, but these people along with the weekend warriors that come through our little town and stop to eat and socialize are the ones that will carry the burden of responsibility when folx start dying here.

But let’s go back to happier news from Thornesworld for a minute.  A couple of cool things, first, our awesome hospice nurse has ordered one of  Fawn’s custom cricut T-shirt designs. She loves it.

Also, Thornesworld is still sending out orders, because who doesn’t need a little magick in their life, especially these days, so Fawn made a nice little mailbox sign and mailbag and our mail woman loved it and took photos for their postal worker newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

Well, that’s it for today from your desert witches. Remember to be gentle with yourselves, but also remember that self care includes moving your body, exercising your mind and feeding your spirit.  Please keep safe and well, my friends.

 

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Strange Days – Day 21

Here in Thornesworld it’s day 21 of our social distancing.  We’re pretty isolated out here, anyway.  I generally prefer the sounds of the breeze through the cottonwoods and the nighttime coyote songs to the noises of traffic and people, anyway, so this isn’t too hard on me.  My grandhumans are mostly happy and my daughter, only child that she is, is also pretty much cruising through this quarantine.

She made this great shirt with her cricut and the looks she gets, on her rare necessary trips out for essentials, are priceless. We live in a really small town out here in the desert, and although California may be liberal and blue overall, the red and orange out here are really rolling with parties at the local Cafe 247, strange conspiracy theories, and fear of martial law. (How do those things even coexist in a mind? Disbelief in Covid-19 and government suppression of your rights?  I’m soooo confused.)

We’ve implemented a few changes to our usual procedures.  This is our unboxing area.  We unload groceries and open shipments out here. We disinfect  more often, but our hand washing is already at the top of the game, since we’re always careful not to carry any flu or colds over to my little mommy next door, who is bed bound with COPD and a host of other medical issues.

 

We’re also cutting up flannel scraps for “family cloth” (if the TP runs out) and for hand towels, so we each have our own. The  grands have been helping.  Learning to iron and cut with  the electric scissors.  And even though we’re not being too picky about our cloths being square, they’re also learning to use a cutting mat to measure and cut straight lines.  All valuable skills.  Along with their home studies, they’re learning more about measuring and mixing for baking and cooking, and of course they’re being little wild humans playing and running amok in the yard. We’ve made them a shared bed for ongoing living room campout nights to help them both feel safer and more secure.  These are tough times for our littles, please remember.  They absorb more than you think. And yes, although it’s important to keep a sort of loose schedule that they can count on, here in Thornesworld their Momma and I believe that some accommodation to tender little psyches must be made and they’re happier sleeping closer to us.

Of course, we’re keeping the magick flowing and sending out health and safety to all of you.

My seed order came, and I’m getting ready to start seedlings.  I think we’re done with freezing nights, so I’ve set up a fun little seed starting area on my patio.

 

I have some warming pads I can put beneath the seedling trays if the temperature makes an unexpected drop, but I think we’ll be good.

I made an order of mask making fabrics and it shipped today, so I’ll be setting up a sewing area and making masks for us and our nurses that come care for mom.  We’ll see how many more I can make to donate.  That’s pretty much it from Thornesworld.  Long days and pleasant nights, my friends.

 

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Allergies, Colds and Flus, Oh My! Herbed Honey

It’s that time of year.  For all of us here in Thornesworld, the allergies kick in first.  As Autumn begins to dry plants to drop leaves for the winter to come, a lot of plants flower and make their last gasp to cast their seeds to the wind and with that come allergies.  The allergies cause that nasty post nasal drip that makes our throats scratchy & tender, even sore.

In short time, we’ll be having kids coming home from school with runny noses that will become chapped and sore from sniffling and blowing. We’ll pick up random viruses from shopping carts and chance encounters with random humans, and even if we get flu vaccinations (we don’t- but… lol) we’ll still be exposed to several of the many strains the vaccines don’t cover, so…

We gotta do our magickal and natural herbal best to care for and treat ourselves.  Am I right? So on the table today is a delicious sore throat and cough remedy.  Herbed Honey.Herbs for Honey

Use local, organic, raw honey if you can, but if you can’t source it, don’t let that stop you.  Honey is so good for a scratchy or sore throat.  It’s actually more soothing than most cough syrups and has the added benefit of being delicious, natural, and you can’t take too much.

Honey is antioxidant, antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal. Raw honey also has immune boosting and anti cancer properties.

I’m starting with well rinsed and dried garden sage and spearmint. Sage is wonderful for coughs and sore throats. With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s perfect for your throat (as well as your tummy- but we’ll talk about that another time). Spearmint contains less menthol than peppermint, but it is rich in limonene, dihydrocarvone, and cineol and has long been used for soothing a sore throat. It has a sweeter taste than peppermint, which is my primary reason for including it in this recipe. I just love spearmint!

I didn’t want to trim my herbs back too hard quite yet, we have another month of growing here before I have to worry about frost, so I’m starting this small batch now just to get ahead of cold & flu season.  This is an 8 ounce Ball canning jar, and once I’ve layered the herbs in (about 2-3 ounces of fresh herbs) and cover them with honey I end up with almost  4 ounces of herbed honey. I’m going to let this infuse for a week or so before I add some lavender essential oil. Lavender is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and tastes just wonderful.  Always use food or therapeutic grade essential oils. I’m going to add 2-3 drops per ounce of honey.  stir well and taste.

Some folk like to strain the honey after the herbs have steeped a week or 2, but I leave them in.  They’ll continue to imbue the honey with their healing and flavorful goodness, and pouring almost boiling water over a scoop of leaves with honey makes a deliciously soothing cup of tea. The herbed honey will stay fresh almost indefinitely in the fridge, but around here we use it much too fast to bother with refrigeration.

I hope you’ll try this delicious throat remedy, and don’t forget to pop over to my shop and stock up on Auntie Thorne’s Winter Rub for that stuffy nose and congestion.

 

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The Problem with Plastic

So, eco freaks have been trying to tell everybody about the problems with plastic pollution for awhile now and before moving back to the High Desert I was admittedly a bit slow on the subject. In my city life, plastic was a way of life. Oh, sure, I’ve always been a bit thrifty and hated waste, but moving out here to the ranch, where there is no curbside recycling has taught me a few things about plastic.

It’s ugly. It lasts forever. It’s toxic. Did I mention that it’s ugly?

Let’s get real, okay? Plastic pollution is a serious problem. We’re not talking a little mess here, we’re talking mountains of waste, we’re talking more ugly than has any right to exist. And the price tag on this ugly?? The cost to our planet, our Mama Earth, is pretty steep. And we sold out cheap- a twinkie here, a bread bag there, a trip to the market.

 

According to various sources around the web:

  • There are an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags consumed worldwide each year.
  • That comes out to over one million per minute.
  • Billions end up as litter each year.
  • According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year and,
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year.
  • Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags that they mistake for food.

  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade. This means when in the sun, they break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways as well as entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest the bits.
  • It also means that when the bags end up in the Land Fills, buried with other garbage and hidden from the sunlight, they don’t degrade.
  • According to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation, plastic bags are among the top 12 garbage items most often found in coastal cleanups.

 

Here in Thorne’s World we: Continue reading

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A Taste of Summer Magick

Mmmm… I love all the flavors and scents of summer, don’t you? Here in the arid desert, just watering my rosemary, mint or creosote in the garden is a heady experience. And for this witch, the scent and flavor of lemons fairly screams summer.  I love lemonade and lemon water.  This summer I’m drinking gallons of Lemon & Cucumber Fresca. The cucumber adds an extra level of refreshment to lemonade that is nothing short of amazing.

So let’s start with this refreshing beverage recipe and then go from there. Of course, how many lemons and cucumbers you use will vary based on your personal preferences, But I start with: 4 large lemons and 1- 2 cucumbers to a  half gallon of water. (We have the most delicious well water here in the desert.  Just the right touch of minerals for taste and a healthy Ph.)  I wash the lemons and cucumbers in a mild solution of GSE just in case they’re not as organic as they claim, not to mention the road dust and various yuk that can coat even the nicest natural produce during transportation. I juice the lemons by hand, mostly because I just love using this vintage ceramic juicer.  The cukes go into the little Ninja. I’m not a huge fan of the bitterness that too much peel sometimes adds, so I usually peel the cucumbers, or half peel them if I’m wanting the tiny bits of dark green peel to look cool in the Fresca. Add your favorite sweetener to taste (I use stevia). And if you’re feeling frisky, garnish with a sprig of mint from the garden.

But why stop at lemonade? There are so many magickal uses for lemon! (And besides, citrus peel is a bitch to compost, am I right?)  I’ve purchased various dried citrus peel from a number of reputable herb vendors, but it’s nothing like drying the peel yourself for magickal potency and scent.  I prefer to dry slowly and naturally, but that’s not always possible, especially when there’s this much to dry.  If you’re only drying one or two lemons, by all means slice up the peel (after removing the inner membrane) and spread them out on some parchment (or a paper bag) and cover them with cheesecloth.  I don’t like to dry my plant matter in the sun, as it loses an awful lot of the essential oils to evaporation that way, but do what works for you.  This go round I decided to use my electric dehydrator.  (Electric Dehydrator Witchy tip: rotate your trays hourly to dry everything slowly and evenly and avoid over-browning.) When I saw all those waning crescent shapes circling one tray, I just had to fill another tray waxing crescents, then I started cutting full moons…

Of course as I saw the shapes, I began having glimpses of some of the witchcrafting I’ll be doing with these wonderful dried lemon peels. According to Cunningham’s Magickal Herbal, Lemon is of Water, the Moon and is, of course, feminine in nature.  Do you feel that?  I do, so deeply. Continue reading

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Resin Incense Magical Correspondences

Benzoin

Resins are plant and tree saps that either bleed naturally from their organic sources forming beads or tears, or are extracted in some way and come in peas.  There are a lot of commercial and practical uses of resins, ranging from glues to varnishes, perfumery to food additives, but I’m not going to concern myself with those applications today.  As is usual here in Thornesworld, we’ll be talking about magick.

Resin is incense in its most pure and natural form. Resin incense has been used for thousands of years and is still used today in religious ceremonies around the world and across many cultures. They’re also just wonderful anytime for the delicious and pure scents they release as they melt/burn. Resin smoke is fragrant, pure and very intense so only a small amount is needed – even a small bag will go farther than you think.  

Some resins are harder to find than others and can be very expensive. It’s also sometimes difficult to be sure one is actually getting what one is paying for, so you may not find all resins available in my shop.  Until I’m sure, I just don’t buy.  I try really hard to source my resins ethically and make sure to know the province of my resins. It’s just good magick, y’all. 

When burning resins you will need a heat resistant container, preferably with a heavy layer of sand in the bottom, and charcoal tablets to burn the granules over. Some of the chunks may be more than you wish to burn all at once. Try a small piece at a time and add more as needed.  The resins may be crushed using a mortar and pestle, or chopped with a sharp knife or shaved with a razor into smaller pieces or even pulverized into a fine powder for easy measurement. Be aware that powder will burn faster and produce more smoke, quickly.

You can experiment with making your own loose incense blends, adding resins to crushed herbs, aromatic woods and essential oils, (I’ll cover that in another post), or just enjoy pure resin for its particular magickal purposes and scent.

I’ve put together a few magical correspondences for you.  They are partly from various sources like Cunningham and Wylundt, much from my own experience and magical use of these resins along with a sprinkling of random folklore.  I wondered a bit about adding the gender info, because really the gender of these resins (like so many wonderful things and creatures) tend to be somewhat fluid, depending on the the way they’re being employed, and the purpose to which they are being used. So do feel free to either utilize, change or ignore the gender correspondences. Continue reading

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Composting in Thornesworld

Pretty every four years or so. Gone in 8 hours.

We had one of our rare snows this winter in February.  They happen about once every four years or so and the snow doesn’t usually stick for long.  This time we had a fun 6 inches or so, but it only lasted about 8 hours.  Which is actually perfect for me.

This week I managed to get out in the garden a bit. I Loooove my garden. It’s really slow goin’ this year. The nights are still chilly here in the desert, and I’m super busy with all the magickal and art crafting as well as finishing up the drywall in my new bedroom! My neighbor, bless him, is starting my seeds for me this year.  He has a full greenhouse with all the nifty lights and the space!  So he’s starting my 100 or so Anaheim Chile seeds, and 6 each of 5 tomato varieties, both heirloom and stable hybrid. Everything else will be direct seeded on April or May, depending on the weather.  I’ve got a lot of new herbs to put in, along with my usual cukes and squash and peas and melons.  But right now I need to get a layer of composted mulch down on my asparagus beds, and that brings me to today’s topic. Compost!

You know I loves me some magical transformation of trash into treasure- art, all that’s green is gold in Thorne’s World, don’tcha know.  I can’t help but share a little Green Goodness today. Compost. Black gold, (we don’t need no stinkin’ oil!) baybee!

There are about a million different ways to make compost, it seems. If you Google it you may soon be overwhelmed by the variety of opinions and the types of composters; barrels and bins and cages; above or below ground. To turn or not to turn? To add newspaper? To layer or not to layer? Continue reading

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Vernal Equinox – Beginnings and Renewal

The first day of spring, the Vernal or Spring Equinox, occurs between March 20th and 21st here in the northern hemisphere.  This year it’s today, March 20, (at 2:58 PM, here where I live).

Many pagans and Wiccans celebrate it as Ostara, so named for Oestre, a Germanic Goddess of Spring.  Other Deities associated with spring include Asase Yaa of the Ashanti, the Roman Cybele and Norse Freya.  In Japan, people remember their ancestors for Higan (Higan-e or Ohigan), while the Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of the Iranian New Year, Nowruz, in accordance with the Persian astronomical calendar.

Here in Thorne’s World, it’s not so much of a religious celebration as it is a celebration of everything Spring!  The first buds are appearing on the trees, the first blossoms that foretell summer’s fruits, and even in the desert there are tiny wildflowers everywhere. The cottontails and jackrabbits are peeking out of their warm winter dens and feeling frisky as they nibble on early greens and chase their future mates in playful flirtation. (You know, they’re “mad as a March hare”.)

Here in California we’re celebrating the first time in seven years that our water tables have filled up.  The end of a seven year drought is just one more reason to celebrate this year. The rain this year has also provided us with a state wide super bloom of poppies and other native flowers blooming with wild abandon, and our Painted Lady Butterfly migration is a sight for sore eyes, if a messy spectacle of windshield washing for California commuters.

As a pagan household, we often choose to celebrate our holidays in conjunction with the official federal holiday, which of course are in accordance with the majority religion in this country of Christianity. We also have an open choice policy with the grandgirls, as I did raising my own daughter, and we allow and encourage exploration of other religions and spiritual paths, so they’ll soon be enjoying Easter and all of it’s pagan symbols with their Christian Nana. As we celebrate our nature rites and the turning of the Wheel of the Year,  we teach my grandgirls the pagan origins of most of the rites and symbols, such as the fertility of rabbits and eggs and the sweets offered as part of the sacrificial observances and the rebirth of the God form across many cultures that historically predate Christianity as well as being currently celebrated in numerous world religions.

We like to do a little crafting as part of our celebration, so this year we’ll be making paper mâché eggs filled with birdseed to hang with colored ribbons from the trees, as offerings both to the spirits and the wild, flowers shall adorn the altar and seeds shall be sown indoors to await warmer soils, as we welcome spring.

It’s a good time for that Spring Cleaning and cleansing you’ve been putting off. Clean and decorate your altar and your home before you head out to the garden! And it’s a really good time of year to do love spells, to do spells to increase or strengthen love and friendships, to make love and work fertility magick if you want to have a baby, to do prosperity and money magick, (why not start a Prosperity Witches’ Bottle?  Instructions here) or really just anything you wish to increase or multiply. It’s a Full Moon tonight, and a Super Moon, at that, so that beautiful pregnant moon will only add its power to your desires.

How do you mark the Spring Equinox? I’d love to hear about your traditions and celebrations.

 

 

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Tarot Tuesday- Dark Moon Edition

Will you walk under the starred velvet sky tonight, dazzled by the bright diamond cut outs revealed by the darkness bereft of moonlight?

I got a new tarot deck last week.  It’s stunning. Inspired and inspiring.  Magick.

It came in the mail on Friday and I spent the weekend sleeping with it on my headboard  and familiarizing myself with its very unique vibe. I saved its inaugural draw for you.  For Dark Moon.

It’s the ShadowLight Tarot, by Eric Tecce and you can find it on instagram, @shadowlighttarot, should you find yourself as drawn to it as I was and am. (This isn’t an advertisement or promotion, per se; I occasionally share products and services of which I’m particularly enamored.  This is one of those.)

While shuffling the 10 of cups jumped out or the deck and landed in my lap.  I set it aside to consider whether it was relevant or not (slippery new decks make for a lot of these sorts of oracular presentations, so it may or may not be relevant-  that’s for the reader to determine).

The draw is The Tower, in all of its wild destructive glory. To gaze upon it is to feel the earth tremble beneath your feet while the wind howls around you and lightning strikes its refraction into your eyes. Will you fall?  Will you topple from the top of the tower that no longer serves you to land beside the ruins?  Or do you stand beside your tower knowing its time has come, braving the storm and ready to renew yourself and rebuild with new and better tools?

Either way, The Tower speaks of the collapse of important aspects of your life.  It may be occurring on any plane, finances and career, love or friendship, the terrors of the world… But during this Dark Moon, when we turn within to greet our shadow, my heart tells me these are interior crashes for many of you.  Illusions you’ve held, even nurtured about yourself or others have been brought into the cold light of the stars and revealed to you.  Truths you’ve ignored or hidden suddenly shine brightly.

However it comes to you, it feels like the end of the world.  You fear it’s more than you can take, just that one thing too much.

It’s not.  We survive these catastrophic collapses with intuition and fortitude.  Now is the time to look carefully at what brought about this collapse.  Often it’s not of our own making in the whole, but if we seek intuitively we can find the part we have played and see the necessity of the destruction. And through this insight we can see where and how to heal, to rebuild.

And here.  The 10 of Cups did come to offer comfort in this difficult time.  To remind that we are grateful for our learning, our lessons. Of wholeness and fulfillment. That the work pays off.  That brighter days are coming as a direct result of the storms we weather.

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Thorne’s Natural Bug Repellent

I hate poisons and pesticides, and it’s that time of year here in Thornesworld. Bugs, bugs and more bugs. You might remember that here in my desert home we have some big, scary bugs like scorpions and of course spiders like the Desert Recluse that bit me when I was sifting my wood chip pile from hell, but today I want to talk a little about your run of the mill, garden variety bugs and the hated flies, mosquitos and ants.

As I think I’ve told you all before, I live in a house that was built sometime in the mid to late 1800’s. Do I need to say that the places for bugs to get in are countless? And although covered porches rawk in the desert, helping to keep the house a little bit cooler, they also suck since they seem to be very happy places for insects to live. I’m constantly chasing the black widows and wolf spiders off of my porches (although my black widows are perfectly polite ladies, those wolf spiders sometimes chase me!), but the big issues for me are the flies. I hate them. I could spend all day swatting and still not make a dent, although I admit I have a blast with the zapper type swatters. I feel like the the legendary taylor “Seven at a blow!”

So I decided to do something about these bugs that are bugging me. I made a couple of completely organic pest repellants. I guess they are natural pesticides, but I think for the most part they drive the bugs away as opposed to killing them. I made one for our bodies and one for the garden. They are both working really well!

For the body recipe:

Equal parts Water and Witch Hazel (4-8 oz ea depending on the strength and quantity you need)

15-30 drops each of the following essential oils:

lavender

rosemary

clove (1/2 the amount of the other oils)

cinnamon (1/2 the amount of the other oils)

As soon as my Calendula (Pot Marigolds) bloom, I’m going make a water based infusion for this blend. Calendula flowers are a treat for the skin. Don’t get this in your eyes, it will sting like the dickens! (I also sometimes just make a Rosemary infused oil for the base instead of using the rosemary essential oil.  As you can see in the photo above, I have plenty of rosemary!)

This recipe can also be made as a salve, with a little beeswax and oil (I use virgin coconut oil, but olive oil or the carrier oil of your choice will work, too).  Or even handier than salves, are little Bug Off Body Bars, that you can easily mold like these little skulls I made from an ice cube tray, that you can rub right on and spread around.  I’ll be posting instructions on salve and bar making soon, as well as offering these in the shop, for those of you who have neither time nor inclination to make them yourself, so please check back often.

For the garden I made an insecticidal soap

32 oz spray bottle 4/5 full of water

1/2 oz of green soap (or dishwashing liquid)

40 drops rosemary

40 drops clove bud

100 drops cinnamon

100 drops pennyroyal

It works! I’ve rescued my strawberries from whatever was eating them! Stay tuned, o’ constant reader; I’ll be back with herbal salve making directions soon! In fact, I’m on my way to the kitchen to blend a batch of Thorne’s Balm (good for every prick, large or small! Hee hee!)

Peace, out!

 

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